"Nearly a third of survey respondents (32%) said they have stopped doing business with at least one company altogether as a result of its poor email practices. - Merkle (Feb. 2009)"
The above quote highlights a key point that email marketers must bear in mind - your email campaign is often one of the first points at which a prospect or customer gets to interact with your business. Good practices will project a positive image of your company and your brand, whereas bad practices can do serious damage to both.
When considering brand alignment, there are 2 aspects you should consider. On a strategic level, your programme should be consistent with the brand direction; on an operational level, the mail content and layout needs to be refined to communicate the brand message.
As an example, take 2 email marketing approaches for a hypothetical provider of luxury watches. This company is looking to introduce a new model to its international clientele. Given the value of the purchase, buyers receive a personal appointment as part of the decision-making process.
Approach 1: The Good
The company employs a focused email marketing strategy using a highly segmented, exclusive list. Segmentation is by:
- Geographic location (buyers come from Europe, the Middle-East, Asia)
- Previous purchase history (model, value, when it was bought, and when the service warranty is due to expire - 5 years after purchase)
The final programme consists of an initial awareness email campaign to launch the new model, in multiple languages. This goes to clients who last bought their watch 5 years ago, and who have previously purchased at least one other item. A 2nd mail arrives offering a personal appointment. This is based on the prospect having clicked on a "request for further information" icon in the 1st mail.
This approach is not only more likely to yield a better "click-rate" due to better targeting; it also fits with the brand direction, which promotes "exclusivity" and "personal service".
Approach 2: The Bad
This watch manufacturer has a list containing a mixture of high net-worth, regular customers and a lot of once-off purchasers. A programme is implemented starting with an undifferentiated weekly newsletter blast to all. Many recipients click the request-for-information icon, just out of curiosity, but with no intention to buy. The manufacturer sends the same mailshot again for the next 3 weeks due to a high "churn"* rate. The results:
- Actual prospects get irritated by these regular undifferentiated mails and unsubscribe, potentially losing the sale.
- There is a further cost to the company to filter out genuine prospects from the once-off purchasers, reducing the campaign ROI.
- Rather than presenting an image of "exclusivity" and "personal service", the brand is perceived as "mass-market" and "impersonal". This contradicts the brand direction.
At this point you have looked at some goals and established the KPIs - don't waste this effort by not managing your company and brand image in the eyes of your customers!
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*Churn refers to the attrition rate of the campaign, i.e. non-deliveries, unsubscribes etc.